Natural wines are slowly seeping into many of the city’s eating and drinking establishments, but as someone who has a notoriously poor understanding of most things wine related, I decided to see what all the fuss is about…
What even is Natural Wine?
As I’m sure you are fully aware – all wine is natural. They’re all made from grapes that come from nature so what exactly is a ‘natural’ wine and why is it named as such?
Well, at the moment there isn’t an official definition of what a natural wine is – and a true consensus or official regulation of what constitutes a natural wine doesn’t exist. So, it can be a bit confusing.
But even with differing interpretations of the term, the common theme running through natural wine producers is that the product should be organic, sustainable and biodynamic – both in terms of the wine and the winery itself.
Natural winemakers want to produce a wine that’s as close to nature as possible – making a grape juice that has experienced almost no intervention and is as close to traditional (and ancient) small-batch production methods as possible.
How is it different to ‘normal’ wine?
One of the first things that you’ll notice between ‘natural’ wines and ‘normal’ wines is usually the fact that natural wines are cloudy, or typically not the usual ‘traditional’ colours of wine that you’d expect.
There will also be noticeable differences in aromas and flavours, mostly due to the fact that natural wine producers tend to use the whole grape, native yeasts and stay away from preservatives and filtering techniques.
Natural wine producers tend to use naturally occurring yeasts for fermentation and aim to avoid sulphites as much as possible. They also leave in the impurities in the liquid that other wine producers take out – the idea is that these impurities add to the flavour and taste of the wines.
Where does Natural Wine come from?
Even though natural wine tends to veer away from the ‘conventional’ methods of wine making, the traditional regions that you’d usually associate with ‘normal’ wine all produce the more natural variation.
It’s generally agreed that the modern natural wine movement began in rural France, where some a group of tiny wineries got together and created their own community based on their unique methods and products.
It’s now spread throughout the world, with the United States embracing the trend much more enthusiastically than everywhere else. You can find natural wines from anywhere though – so don’t get too attached to a certain place.
Where can I buy it?
There are a few champions of natural wine in the city, most noticeably Wolf At The Door in the Northern Quarter and ERST in Ancoats, so if you’re looking to try some – I would recommend heading to one of those first.
Natural wines tend to come in rather small batches – typically due to the ancient fermentation methods used by the wineries. Therefore, a venue’s availability of specific wines can change dramatically from one week to the next. It’s always a good idea to keep an eye on their social media channels to see what’s new and what’s gone.
The staff at both ERST and Wolf At The Door are highly trained and knowledgeable about the natural wines that are on offer. If you have any questions or want to know which to try – the best bet is to chat to them and find out for yourself.
Which ones should I to try?
2018 Domaine Sebastien David Cabernet Franc Hurluberlu @ ERST
A firm staff favourite of Erst this red wine might look like a massive bottle of Coke but the only thing it shares with the fizzy pop is that it’s served ice cold from the fridge. It’s it’s exuberantly fresh, brimming with cherry and cranberry flavours that promise to dance all over your palate.
2016 Scheu…Aber Geil @ Wolf At The Door
This German offering translates into “Shy… but horny” and is the kind of natural wine that will make you stand up and take notice. There’s a distinct lack of subtlety going on here – it’s a wine that will give your taste buds a serious run for their money as it assaults you with some powerful aromas and flavours.
2018 Azul y Garanza Naturaleza Salvaje Blanco @ ERST
Tucked among a wild vineyard, brother and sister team Maria and Fernando Barrena are huge champions of organic viticulture and biodiversity. This Garnacha Blanca has 2 weeks of skin contact in open fermenters. The final flavours are nutty, peachy and herbal with hints of orange blossom.
Ben Brown’s favourite – Tillingham PN18 Natural Rose 10.5%
With fruity hints of rhubarb and cream soda this Rose is certainly something special. It’s refreshing and easy to drink and is great when paired with seafood and cheese. If you can find it anywhere – try it. You certainly won’t regret it.
Will I get a hangover?
Yes. Of course you bloody will.
Natural Wines in Manchester
Wolf At The Door